Hewell “Chank” Middleton, the longtime friend and road companion of the late Gregg Allman, has died. Middleton, whose passing was confirmed in a post on Gregg Allman’s official social media accounts, was less than a month shy of his 72nd birthday.

Middleton, who has described himself as “the first Allman Brothers fan,” met the members of The Allman Brothers Band when they were all young men in Macon, GA and went on to form a lasting relationship with the group.

As Chank explained in a promotional interview for Gregg’s final studio album, Southern Blood, in 2017, “I met [Gregg] in 1969, I was a few months out of high school, and I was shining shoes in the barbershop next door to where the studio was going to be. … The first time he and I actually interacted with each other, I shined shoes, he had these shades on that I really liked, and while I was shining his shoes I kept looking up at the shades he had on. … When I got through the shoes he stepped off the stand and he told me, he said, ‘How much I owe you for the shine, man?’ And I told him, I say, ‘A quarter.’ He gave me a quarter, and then he looked at me and he goes, ‘You like these shades, don’t you?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, man, I like those shades.’ And he pulled them off and handed them to me and said, ‘This is your tip.'”

He continued, “That was basically the beginning of our friendship even though Duane [Allman] and I, we was closer friends than me and Gregg, okay? Gregg and I, we actually bonded like brothers the night Duane died. That’s the night our true friendship formed.” Watch the clip below.

Chank Middleton Recounts Meeting Gregg Allman

Middleton remained active in Gregg’s inner circle until the end of his career. As he explained to Live For Live Music in a 2019 interview, it was his influence that convinced Gregg to record Jackson Browne‘s “Song For Adam” for Southern Blood.

“When me and Gregg started living together in 1974, I didn’t know much about Jackson Browne. Gregg was always singing ‘Song for Adam’ and it sounded like a song he had written about Duane. Then I asked, ‘Did you write this song?’ and he said ‘No, this is a Jackson Browne song. He wrote it about a friend that died.’ When we were putting songs together for Southern Blood, we met over breakfast to go over the songs. We sit down, they go through the songs and listen to them. Right before we got ready to wrap things up, [producer] Don [Was] asked, ‘Chank, what would you like him to record on the new CD?’ I told him, ‘Song for Adam.'” The band wound up recruiting Browne himself for the recording, which closes out the album’s ten-song tracklist.

As the Allman Brothers Band website noted in an announcement of Middleton’s passing, “Chank developed a friendship with the entire group, but especially Gregg Allman, as they became the closest of friends. At various times, Chank worked for Gregg and the ABB as a personal assistant, facilitator
and confidant; everyone in the ABB loved and cherished Chank.” Read the full note from the Allman Brothers Band on Middleton’s passing here and scroll down to view additional homages.

[Guitarist Scott Sharrad, Chank Middleton, Gregg Allman, and producer Don Was, photo courtesy of Shannon Allman]

[Gregg at Chank’s home, photo courtesy of Shannon Allman]

[Gregg and Chank at Wanee Fest, photo courtesy of Shannon Allman]


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